Discover winter fun in great outdoors

By Donna Erickson

Sylvie Betras, 5, tries her hand at ice fishing.

When the forecast calls for rain, sleet, snow or frigid sub-zero temps like we’ve experienced lately in Minnesota, don’t let old man winter keep you inside. Try something new with your kids that you’ll never forget. Like ice fishing!

That’s exactly what Meg Bertas, mom of 3-year-old Julian and 5-year-old Sylvie, decided to do a couple of weeks ago. Lured by a “Winter Kite Festival” on a frozen metro lake, they went out in the single-digit temps to be part of the scene. And what a winter wonderland it was! Pint-sized anglers tried their luck ice fishing for perch through a foot of ice drilled out for them by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in the 20-foot-deep waters, scores of others flew spectacular, colorful kites into the sunny skies, while toddlers, who were bundled up from head to toe, grinned from ear to ear on their sleds as their parents pulled them across the bumpy snow.

“Hibernation isn’t an option this time of year,” said Meg as she patiently untangled her kids’ fishing lines that were dangling in a 10-inch-wide hole in the ice. “It’s important to remember there’s community outside the four walls of our house, and lots to explore even when it’s cold outside.”

Whether you’re in the snowy north or fairer temps in the South, cure the winter blahs by trying something new with your kids. Top off the outing with a simple meal when you get home, and if there is still energy to spare, play a card game or board game by the fireplace in your pjs, and you will have made a special day of it.

Here are some ideas:

— Getting out the door doesn’t have to take a lot of planning. It can be as easy as walking to the neighborhood bakery, visiting the library and checking out a week’s supply of reading, or meeting another family for a favorite activity.

— For something novel, blow bubbles in the freezing air. Watch them bounce and sparkle. Take a night walk with flashlights or cross-country ski with older kids under a full moon for a wild adventure.

— Check online for free and reasonably priced events at your local park, regional nature center or arboretum. It’s important to get kids to experience the changes of seasons in different venues, and wintertime provides fun new discoveries of plant and wildlife.

— Teach your child something that you enjoyed doing as kid, and rediscover that joy when you are together. Build a snow fort, snowshoe, ice skate, hike, take photos of outdoor scenes and people, or build a campfire and toast marshmallows.


Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.”


© 2020 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Synd.